Fatima la tudd

I have a new name. My host family gave it to me. Fatima Fal, and ‘Fatima la tudd’ is Wolof for ‘my name is Fatima’. Before I get much further I would like to address my previous issues and worries.

#1) THE HEAT. Right before I left I was reassured that it was always 70 degrees with a bit of wind because Dakar is on a peninsula. This is false. It has probably been at least 80 degrees every day but c’est pas grave. I mean, I sweat through every outfit I wear, but last night there was a windy little storm, the fans usually work when there is not a power outage, and I am getting used to it slowly but surely.

#2) ILLNESS. Well, I have not gotten sick yet. Despite the warnings: one must bleach all vegetables, boil all liquids, peel all fruits, filter all water, not use ice, not buy street food, etc. sometimes it is hard. My mother for example makes juice (buy and bissap) which then gets sold on the street. I don’t know how it is made but I drink it, it is especially nice when frozen. Plus it is hard to refuse anything when someone buys it for you. I drank bissap juice in a restaurant with ice, and I probably don’t wash my hands enough especially since we eat with the right one and lick it clean when finished. Yet, knock on wood, I am not sick… yet.

#3) FISH. Actually I have absolutely no complaints about any of the food I have eaten. Yesterday I ate a very traditional meal of fried fish. The entire fish was fried, scales, head, tail, and I ate it, with my hands, shared with my new family. Well I did not eat the head, or the tail, but the scales taste just fine. Plus there are these things called fish balls which are delicious. The only problem I have with the meals now is that sometimes they just smell like fish.

Now I have a new worry though, a little problem called COMMUNICATION. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before, but I can’t speak French very well. And it has gotten a little frustrating for most everyone I speak with. But on the plus side, everyone here is incredibly nice. Except for the pickpocket who I elbowed aside and the man who followed us for 20 minutes around the market. By the end of the semester I will be a true ‘white Sénégalaise’, the ultimate compliment.

Until next time!

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